Letters to Kennedy

John Kenneth Galbraith, Author, James Goodman, Editor Harvard University Press $42 (168p) ISBN 978-0-674-52837-6
This title is quite honest: although there are a half dozen or so letters from JFK, everything else is from Harvard economist Galbraith, JFK's friend, adviser and his ambassador to India from 1961 to 1963. The book is broken into three sections: Politics, Economics and Foreign Affairs. Much of the Politics section is given over to such mundane things as civil defense and a Department of Defense pamphlet on home bomb shelters, which Galbraith describes as designed ""for saving Republicans and sacrificing Democrats."" There is also pedestrian economic advice to candidate Kennedy and comments on Nixon's book, Six Crises, describing ways ""one could shove him over"" the edge. The section on Economics is eye-glazing at best, with policy chats about gold prices, tax cuts and unemployment that have been forgotten for nearly 40 years. Things pick up, however, in Foreign Affairs. Here, Galbraith offers candid evaluations of the dangers of Vietnam (""drop Diem"" and do not import troops); of old New Dealers such as Dean Acheson (""he will be a source of trouble for he wants the policy that serves his ego not your needs""); and of the women in various countries--""the more under-developed the country the more over-developed the women"" he says of India, while reporting that Saigon's women are ""tall with long legs, high breasts."" They are, he reports, ""very compelling,"" but ""an Ambassadorship is the greatest inducement to celibacy since the chastity belt."" Ultimately this is a slim, dated volume that may be of most interest to scholars of the New Frontier. (May)
Reviewed on: 06/01/1998
Release date: 05/01/1998
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